An estimated 334,000 COVID-19 cases are attributable to meatpacking plants, resulting in $11.2 billion in economic damage, according to a new study led by a researcher at the University of California, Davis. The study was published in the journal Food Policy.
It found that beef- and pork-processing plants more than doubled per capita infection rates in counties that had them. Chicken-processing plants increased transmission rates by 20 percent. The study looked specifically at large meatpacking plants generating more than 10 million pounds per month.
Researchers said both the economic impact and infection rate estimate is conservative. The study looked at infection rates within a county and did not account for cases that might have been contracted at a meatpacking plant but spread to other counties.
“Similarly, our study likely understates true economic losses,” said lead author Tina Saitone, a livestock and rangeland economics cooperative extension specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis.
The study looked at lost wages and mortality and did not include long-term health care costs, or costs for measures put in place to protect worker safety.
“While we did see an initial ramp up in cases attributable to meatpacking facilities, over time infection rates were the same per capita as counties without them, partly because meatpacking plants implemented a lot of protocols to protect employees,” said Saitone.
A variety of factors can drive county-level COVID-19 transmission rates. Saitone said the research controlled for those potential drivers, such as the number of nursing homes or correctional facilities in a county. It also considered stay-at-home orders and other regulations, population density, demographics, economic factors and health characteristics. The study looked at infections within 150 days after the first documented COVID-19 case in each county.
Increased COVID-19 transmission rates have prompted some critics to call for a smaller, more geographically dispersed industry to make it less susceptible to a pandemic and massive disruptions in the food supply chain. Researchers caution that such a move would come at a price, adding costs to a system designed to eliminate them and ultimately increasing food prices. Economists instead suggest research and investigation into the automation and technological innovations that made the poultry segment of the industry more resilient to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Study co-authors include K. Aleks Schaefer with Michigan State University and Daniel Scheitrum with the University of Arizona.
Follow the latest news on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
Tina Saitone et al. COVID-19 Morbidity and Mortality in U.S. Meatpacking Counties, Food Policy (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2021.102072
Meatpacking plants increased COVID-19 cases in US counties (2021, April 15)
retrieved 15 April 2021
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
- COVID case rates hit new high for England, study finds - April 7, 2022
- Govt’s focus on affordable healthcare ensured significant savings for poor, middle class: PM Modi - April 7, 2022
- SRL Diagnostics and Skye Air Mobility collaborate to transport pathology samples using drone logistics - April 6, 2022
- Healthineers sets up new production line of CT scanners in Bengaluru under PLI scheme - April 6, 2022
- Lupin inks licensing pact with Alvion to market drugs in Southeast Asia - April 6, 2022
- Yoga Mahotsav: Ayush Ministry to organise event to demonstrate common yoga on World Health Day - April 6, 2022
- LordsMed forays into the medtech space with launch of health ATMs ‘Lords Sehat’ - April 5, 2022
- ‘Friendly viruses’ can be the next big thing in the history of medical research and more - April 5, 2022
- No setback to Bharat Biotech even as WHO suspends Covaxin UN supply: Sources - April 4, 2022
- Govt panel recommends Serum’s Covovax dose for kids aged 12 and above - April 4, 2022